In Depth Recap: Ohio State-Maryland

J.T. Barrett and Ezekiel Elliott continue to build their case for being Braxton Miller-Carlos Hyde Lite as they combined for 483 of Ohio State’s 533 yards of total offense Saturday afternoon. The young tandem rudely introduced the Maryland Terrapins to the Big Ten with their efficient and dominant performance on, what some experts were calling, a possible upset.

The Buckeyes were very business like in their first true road game of the season. From the first series, the offense set the tempo running the football with ease. The offensive line continued to build on its solid performances, the wide receivers continued to help their young quarterback out by making big plays down the field, and the young quarterback? Well he put it one of his most mature performances of the season as he took charge of the offense and ensured there would be no drop off after a big win at home.

Oh, yeah the defense played too on Saturday. With the stellar play of this offense the defense has not received much love, especially after their three or four horrendous play performance against Cincinnati. But for the third consecutive week they have improved. They allowed one big play of 60 yards that did not result in a touchdown. Outside of that play, the Buckeye secondary did not allow a pass longer than 25 yards the whole game. In fact the Buckeye secondary allowed only 244 yards of passing from two quarterbacks. They allowed one touchdown pass and intercepted Maryland four times.

Now all of this was not the doing of just the secondary. Maryland was the first true drop back team the Buckeyes faced and, wouldn’t you know it, the defensive line ate that up. Often times rushing just four, the Buckeyes got to quarterbacks Caleb Rowe and C.J. Brown early and often. Steve Miller had arguably his best game as a Buckeye, causing several quarterback pressures and planting C.J. Brown on one occasion that almost brought a tear to my eye because of how beautiful it was. Joey Bosa and Michael Bennett played outstanding football proving why both should be first team All Big Ten. It was nice to also see some depth begin to grow as Rashad Frazier recorded a sack. All in all, one of the best games from this unit this season.

Speaking of best games from a unit, I was extremely impressed with the linebacking core. Darron Lee, as some predicted, had a stellar performance harassing quarterback C.J. Brown in the backfield and also recording an interception, that was fumbled by Lee and recovered by Raekwon McMillan. The stellar five star prospect is starting to turn in to the player many thought he could be with his potential. McMillan is receiving more reps and is proving to have a nose for the football recovering Lee’s fumble and also registering a pick 6 which was very impressive.

So yes, I’m impressed, but here are a couple of outstanding story-lines that stood out from the rest this past Saturday.

This Team Gets It

The first obvious problem that you have with a young team is maturity. I do not think the maturity of this performance can be understated. A noon kick off versus a very dangerous team after a big prime time win at home often spells for maybe not an upset, but at least a scare from an opponent like Maryland. But this team was having none of it. They got off the bus and went right to work as if last week did not even happen.

This teams looks like it is buying in to getting better every week and not concerning itself with what happens down the road in the Big Ten. To be a little unfair to them, they do not have any real right to worry about what lies ahead anyway. This team isn’t good enough to coast, they have to keep their foot on the pedal the whole time. Credit the coaching staff for doing that. Coach Meyer echoed that sentiment after the game Saturday. He was obviously impressed with the performance but emphasized the importance for this team to get better. If they stay focused on getting better and taking care of business in October, who knows where they will end up at the beginning of November.

Early Bye’s Help

When the schedule was first released for this season my eyes went to The Game, the visit to East Lansing, and then to the bye weeks. Both of which were extremely early and both of which I was not fond of. However, given the youth of this team, especially at the quarterback position, the early bye weeks are proving to be a blessing in disguise.

The coaches are now able to recap this teams first month. They can go through and show where these players need to improve, but more importantly where they are growing. From the beginning of September to the beginning of October this football team has grown and molded itself very nicely. Mistakes were made, but the good thing for this football team should be as they move forward their biggest mistakes should be behind them. There will be more mistakes, but the majority of them were probably made in the first month of the season.

Now this team can take this week, reflect, and get ready for the grind that is ahead of them.

Shout-out to the Special Teams

This unit gets very little love. But their performance on Saturday was stellar. Maryland’s dangerous return man Stefon Diggs was demolished on his first kick return. He began to bring the ball out of the endzone and was met immediately at the ten yard line by the Buckeye coverage unit. From that point on the tone was set for the day.

Stud Aussie punter Cameron Johnston boomed a 69 yard punt later in the game that completely shifted the momentum for the game. It pinned Maryland against their own endzone, and thanks to some questionable play calling by the Maryland staff, Terps quarterback C.J. brown was picked by Darron Lee. That led to a touchdown toss to Nick Vannett that made the game 31-10 going in to half and halting some momentum Maryland had gained from their previous two drives.

Without a doubt this unit deserves some love. According to Coach Meyer they were sitting first class on the flight home, it was well deserved. This unit’s outstanding performance capped off a great day for the young Buckeyes and completed the full team domination of the Maryland Terrapins.

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